World's first babysitting app fought for foothold in Mexico
In Mexico, the digital age is inspiring changes in the traditionally conservative culture. The convenience of apps is making a difference in services industries, including babysitting. CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock explains.
For Dana Sacal, with no relatives close by, babysitters were always hard to find.
But for the past two years, using an app she describes as ‘Uber for Babysitters,’ the mother-of-two has summoned strangers from the internet to take care of her children.
“To be honest, at the start the idea made me quite scared, because I had never left my daughter in the care of any stranger,” she told CGTN. “But once I saw the profiles of the babysitters, and we had tried it out, I was happier. I’ve been hooked ever since.”
The app Sacal uses is called ‘KidSit.’ Launched two years ago, it provides personal babysitters across Mexico’s three largest cities.
It was founded by Debasish Karmakar.
“It was kind of stupid at the beginning, I must say,” he said laughing, as he remembered back on the early days of his startup. “Nobody could believe that with the tap of a button there is somebody who you never knew is going to show up at your doorstep, and is going to be taking care of your kid, right? It’s impossible.”
Karmakar says that in the first six months of operations, his company garnered just five clients.
But in addition, the app’s founders chose to launch their business in Mexico, a country which presented an extra challenge, not only due to its tight-knit family culture, but also fears sparked by violence and high levels of kidnapping seen here.”
But slowly, through word of mouth and adhering to high standards for the childcare professionals it accepts, the business has grown.
Daniela Landeros is the app’s chief of operations today, and sifts through the CVs for prospective sitters for the growing customer base.
“We have to select people with the adequate profile,” she said. “They must be females with specific qualifications that relate to childcare. So psychologists, nurses, kindergarten teachers, are all profiles which we will accept for review. Not just anyone who says they have experience can be a candidate.”
After checking references, staging drug tests and conducting rigorous background checks, KidSit says only about seven percent of applicants are accepted. Yet today, the app has a client base of more than five-thousand families.
It’s an improbable success that its founder attributes to client satisfaction.
“It was just word-of-mouth. Because we launched every kind of campaign that we could, but at the end when we did the math, people tried because they heard their friends trying; somebody to somebody, somebody to somebody, it’s like a multi-level marketing eh?” said Kamakar.
And KidSit is looking to ride this cultural shift brought by the digital age even further, with expansion plans in Canada and Spain.